PORTLAND, Ore. — The first sensor hub specifically designed for Android running on ARM was demonstrated today by Hillcrest Laboratories Inc., of Rockville, Md., at the ARM TechCon Expo (Oct. 30-31, Santa Clara, Calif.). Hillcrest's first sensor hub -- dubbed SH-1 -- is compatible with the Android 4.3 "Jelly Bean" operating system and is available either as software-only or pre-integrated with an Amtel low-power microcontroller.
Chad Lucien, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Hillcrest Labs, told EETimes:
There is a lot of activity with sensor hubs in the Windows 8 market. Also Samsung's smartphones and tablets all use sensor hubs, and now Apple has its own M7 sensor-hub microcontroller for iOS. Consequently we are seeing very strong interest among Android developers to catch up in sensor hubs. Our SR-1 lets Android developers quickly implement a sensor hub that does unique things, which go beyond just nine-axis sensor fusion, allowing our OEMs to differentiate themselves with gesture recognition and always-on context awareness functions.
Hillcrest's first Sensor Hub (SH-1) featuring its Freespace sensor fusion, gesture recognition, and context-aware algorithms comes pre-integrated with Atmel's SAM D20 ARM Cortex M0+ based microcontroller.
A sensor hub off-loads the application processor from managing all the sensors studding a modern smartphone, tablet, laptop, wearable device, or Internet of Things (IoT) device. Microsoft, for instance (following Apple's lead as does Samsung and most other smartphone and tablet makers) mandated that Window 8 developers include a full complement of inertial sensors. A sensor hub helps manage them by performing the nine-axis sensor fusion across three triple-axis micro-electromechanical system (MEMS) inertial sensors -- accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer -- thereby freeing up the application processor to be more responsive to the user.
In addition to the sensor fusion performed by all sensor hubs, the SH-1 also performs gesture recognition from its Freespace MotionElements library of commonly used gestures. For instance, OEMs can allow their users to browse large libraries of images or music albums by tilting the device so the "covers" smoothly flow by at a speed determined by the inclination. The SH-1 also provides activity tracking and "context awareness" for always-on functions -- such as ascertaining when users have the device in their pocket -- so the application processor can be turned off to conserve battery life while waiting for the context to change.
Hillcrest licenses the SR-1 software directly to OEMs, who can then implement it on their own ARM microcontrollers, or they can get it already preconfigured for a low-power Atmel microcontroller. In the Atmel booth at the ARM TechCon Expo, Hillcrest demonstrated its algorithms running on Atmel's latest SAM D20 ARM Cortex M0+ based microcontroller.
Hillcrest's SR-1 also comes with optimized drivers for all the popular brands of MEMS inertial, magnetic, and environmental sensors. Companies that have already licensed Hillcrest's motion-processing technologies include Eastman Kodak, Intel, LG Electronics, Logitech, Roku, SMK Electronics, Sony, TCL Multimedia, and Universal Electronics (UEI).